A Student's Perspective on the Anthropocene Conference

by Majorie Landon, Anthropology Undergraduate

Attending UC Santa Cruz’s Anthropocene conference was like opening the pages of a story book. A diverse group of participants from various pockets of the world were brought together to narrate and hear stories about the Arts of Living on a Damaged Planet.

It was a weekend of meaningful discussions, positive and critical thinking, great people, hard work, and good fun. Ursula Le Guin, James Clifford, and Donna Haraway were a pleasing introduction to what the conference held in store. They introduced us to the power of and need for story telling. The narrations flowing in and through the air that weekend challenged us to consider the inevitable entanglement between humans and non-humans, and to understand the potential impacts that each has on the other. Understanding life in this way allows us to imagine how we can all inhabit the world together, instead of destroy it.

It is hard to express in words alone how grateful I am for being able to be a part of this weekend. To see so many smart and caring and active people in the same room, discussing and thinking critically about our future not only as a collective human species, but in relation to other species as well—including wolves, ants, and lichen, among many more—was indispensable to a budding anthropologist. The Anthropocene conference portrayed anthropology as a profession that critically considers the intertwining destinies of humans and non-humans alike as a way to avoid inadvertent destruction of either side.

The meshwork of panelists, discussants, and audience members told a story of our care and respect for the natural world around us.